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Refining the Car Chase
"We have huge adventures all throughout Manhattan, including a magical car chase,” says director Jon Turteltaub. "It's a Jerry Bruckheimer movie; you've got to have a car chase. Are you kidding? You sign a piece of paper when you work with Jerry: ‘Yes, sir, I'll do a car chase.'”

"We not only wanted a car chase even more exciting than the one that Jon directed in London on ‘National Treasure: Book of Secrets,'” says Bruckheimer, "we wanted one the likes of which has never been seen on screen before.”

"Everything takes on a more magical flare than you would normally anticipate from a car chase sequence,” says Nicolas Cage. "Cars morph into other cars, they go into a mirror world at one point. They're operating by a different list of physics and rules than you would normally imagine a car chase to have.”

Turteltaub says the film's rooting in sorcery weighed heavily on the scene. "In prepping the sequence, we had to think, ‘All right, if I were a sorcerer, how would I have a car chase?' Your car doesn't have to stay your car and your environment doesn't have to stay your environment. In typical car chases, your obstacles are the other cars on the road, the environment you're in and the other person. But if you're a sorcerer, you have the added element of being able to change all of those things. So what happens when the car you're following stops being a slow truck and turns into a Ferrari? And what if that Ferrari turns into a garbage truck and tries to crush you?”

The chase begins with the Merlinean heroes in Balthazar's fashionable ride of choice, a gleaming 1935 Rolls-Royce Phantom. This magnificent artifact of a truly golden age turned heads everywhere, with locals and tourists posing for photos in front of the vehicle, as if it were one of the stars of the movie. It's owner? Nicolas Cage, a noted vintage-car enthusiast.

"Most Rolls-Royce cars are special because they were handmade in limited quantities in England,” says Dan Dietrich, who maintained the Phantom throughout production. "But what's special about this one is that it's one of a kind. There are no other vehicles exactly like it. Rolls-Royce made about 2,000 Phantoms, and of that, only 19 were made as coupes. Back then, the cost of an average Rolls-Royce was several times what a house would cost, so to make a coupe, you had to be really wealthy.

"When you purchased a Phantom back in the 1930s,” Dietrich explains, "you basically got an engine and a chassis, and then it was up to you to choose the coach maker to build the body. And what makes this one so special is that the original owner bought the body out of the only Rolls-Royce dealership in Montreal and picked a body that didn't exist before.”

The car chase scene called for picture car coordinator Mike Antunez to acquire a large number of vehicles, including an exact replica of the priceless Phantom—utilized as a kind of stunt double for the real car for the chase scene.

"The replica was pretty good,” says Dietrich. "It's pretty incredible that it was built in only six weeks.”

In the chase scene, which required three weeks of combined first and second unit filming over long and often rainy nights, Balthazar and Dave's sorcery morphs the Phantom into a sleek, modern Mercedes McLaren SUV and then incongruously (and mistakenly) into a 1976 Pinto. Horvath, on his end, begins the chase in a Mercedes GL500, which transforms first into a New York yellow taxicab, and then into a speedier Ferrari F30 and, finally, into a weirdly threatening garbage truck.

"This is what I mean when I say that this movie is a heck of a ride,” laughs Jay Baruchel. "We have a pretty badass car chase in our movie with the fastest, sexiest cars on Earth. In the scene, we literally drive through the heart of midtown Manhattan and right into a mirror world where everything is backwa

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